Federal Highway Traffic Safety Agency announces investigation into Newport Beach Tesla crash that killed 3 people

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A crash that killed three people traveling in a 2022 Tesla Model S on the West Coast Highway in Newport Beach on May 12 is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, multiple media reported Wednesday.

Reuters has confirmed that a special investigation has been opened into a fatal Tesla crash that happened this month in California and left three people dead.

The incident is one of more than 30 under review by NHTSA since 2016 involving Tesla vehicles that use advanced driver assistance systems, such as Autopilot, the report continued.

Although Reuters did not refer to the Newport Beach collision, ABC News reported that the federal agency confirmed it had sent a team to the city to investigate the incident.

Wreckage from a May 12 vehicle collision on the West Coast Freeway in Newport Beach is being collected as part of a local investigation by city police. The incident is under review by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

(Don Leach / personal photographer)

Newport Beach police responding to the Tesla crash at 12:45 a.m. on the 3000 block of the West Coast Highway on May 12 reported that the vehicle appeared to have collided with construction equipment on the south side from the highway. Three dead people were found inside the vehicle.

The coroner’s office identified the occupants as Wayne Walter Swanson Jr, 40, of Newport Beach; Crystal McCallum, 34, of Texas; and Andrew James Chaves, 32, of Arizona.

Three construction workers who were at the site at the time of the collision were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the Newport Beach Police Department reported at the time of the incident. .

Reuters reported that of the 35 special accident investigations conducted by the US Transportation Safety Agency into Tesla over the past six years, the Autopilot feature was ruled out in three cases.

A sidewalk shrine marks the spot on the West Coast Highway in Newport Beach where three people died in a May 12 vehicle collision.

A sidewalk shrine, seen Wednesday, marks the spot on the West Coast Highway in Newport Beach where three people died in a collision with a vehicle on May 12.

(Don Leach / personal photographer)

The feature would allow vehicles to steer, accelerate and brake automatically, but Tesla warns the public on its website that this feature, as well as the full self-driving features available on some models, require active driver supervision. and do not make the vehicle autonomous.

“Autopilot and full self-driving capability are intended for use with a fully aware driver who has their hands on the wheel and is ready to take over at a moment’s notice,” reads a statement on the company’s support page. “While these features are designed to become more capable over time, the currently enabled features do not make the vehicle self-driving.”

Newport Beach Police spokeswoman Heather Rangel said May 12 that the collision was being investigated locally by the department’s major accident investigation team. Rangel said Wednesday she was unable to comment on any NHTSA investigation into the crash.

In the days following the incident, a roadside shrine began to grow on a stretch of the West Coast Highway where the incident occurred. A pile of flowers, candles and other tributes have been placed on the sidewalk, where some passers-by kneel for a closer look.

A photo showed a smiling Chaves, frontman of the band Arizona Katastro, who performed an April 30 concert at Colorado’s famed Red Rocks Amphitheater, according to a Facebook post. The band members announced the news Friday on Instagram.

“We are completely devastated to have to announce the loss of our brother and singer Andy Chaves,” they wrote. “Please respect the privacy of Andy’s family and band members as we all begin to process this. Thank you for the love and support.”

A memorial shrine on the West Coast Highway in Newport Beach honors May 12 crash victims, including artist Andy Chaves.

A memorial shrine on the West Coast Highway in Newport Beach honors May 12 crash victims, including Arizona artist Andy Chaves, frontman of the band Katastro.

(Don Leach / personal photographer)

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